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Apple Businesses

The Man Behind Apple And Pixar 331

Ant writes "Steve Jobs is the chief executive of two of the most powerful technology brands in the world: Apple and Pixar. But what motivates him? And how does he choose a new washing machine? An article in the Independent explores this much loved and much hated man." From the article: "Alan Deutschmann, a journalist who researched Jobs's middle years for a biography called The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, believes he displays two personalities in his dealings with people: Good Steve and Bad Steve. The Good side is charming, and can make people believe almost anything; that's the side on public view at the rock-star product launches. He's been said to have a 'reality distortion field' - by a mixture of charm and exaggeration, he can make you believe pretty much anything."
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The Man Behind Apple And Pixar

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  • by Biotech9 ( 704202 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:36AM (#13913264) Homepage
    It took me a while to find what he actually ended up buying. It was a Miele [miele.com] washer. Premium German engineering of course.

    In another more detailed interview [wired.com],

    Steve went on, "It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something.... Most people don't take the time to do that." He then proceeded to tell a story that both sheds light on his private life and gives some insight into the decision-making process that often turns life into a hell for people who work with him. Making the point that design isn't just an issue for "fancy new gadgets," he described how his whole family became involved in, of all things, the selection of a new washing machine and dryer. This is a little hard to picture: The billionaire Jobs family didn't have very good machines. Selecting new ones became a project for the whole family. The big decision came down to whether to purchase a European machine or an American-made one. The European machine, according to Steve, does a much better job, uses about one-quarter as much water, and treats the clothes more gently so that they last longer. But the American machines take about half as long to wash the clothes.

    "We spent some time in our family talking about what's the trade-off we want to make. We spent about two weeks talking about this. Every night at the dinner table" -- imagine dinner-table conversation about washing machines every night! -- "we'd get around to that old washer-dryer discussion. And the talk was about design." In the end, they opted for European machines, which Steve described as "too expensive, but that's just because nobody buys them in this country."

    Of course, this wasn't really about washing machines; it was about passing along the concern for design to his children and perhaps to (his wife) Laurene. The decision clearly gave him more pleasure than you would expect. He called the new machines "one of the few products we've bought over the last few years that we're all really happy about. These guys (had) really thought the process through. They did such a great job designing these washers and dryers."

    Steve's surprising tag line on the story says a great deal about how much design really means to him: "I got more thrill out of them than I have out of any piece of high tech in years."

    Some people might think it a bit weird that there was so much thought going into buying a washing machine, but i think that if you get to see some of the lovely stuff Miele make you might not think it so weird. It's obvious the engineers at Miele are as obsessive over their machines as Jobs is over his. And it's clear he noticed and appreciated that.

    Not to mention how nice it is to know that despite his billions he still does his own laundry.
  • by JJSpreij ( 84475 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:33AM (#13913382)
    Jobs could be milking Apple for a lot more than $1 per year, if he was really motivated by money....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs [wikipedia.org]

    Jobs worked at Apple for several years with an annual salary of $1, and this earned him a listing in Guinness World Records as the "Lowest Paid Chief Executive Officer". At the 2001 keynote speech of Macworld Expo in San Francisco, the company dropped the "interim" from his title. His current salary at Apple officially remains $1 per year, although he has traditionally been the recipient of a number of lucrative "executive gifts" from the board, including a $90 million jet in 1999, and just under 30 million shares of restricted stock in 2000-2002. As such, Jobs is well compensated for his efforts at Apple despite the nominal one-dollar salary.
  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:37AM (#13913390) Homepage
    Their insistence on the "resource" fork always struck me as idiotic: data is data. If it is in a file, it is a bunch of bytes (or even blocks of bytes) -- no need to have separate "meta" information.

    Resource forks are sensible given their purpose: to allow strings, in-program graphics, sounds, etc. to be tweaked without having to recompile or have necessary files outside of the application itself.

    This way localization and some UI changes could be made without having to know how to change the source directly. Translators that can program are more costly than translators that can fiddle with ResEdit. Early on it was also hoped that files could use them productively (e.g. a text file that was raw text in the data fork, so that lesser systems could still read it, but with formatting in the resource fork) but this didn't really work out.

    Application bundles (folders that masquerade as actual programs, and contain all the various resources in separate files) are a different way of accomplishing the same goal, basically. They're not quite as good, since they're known to break and revert back to behaving like folders, but it's better than what you see on other platforms.

    At any rate, given that you seem to actually be complaining about metadata, this indicates that you have no idea what a resource fork is and probably never seriously used a Mac. Metadata (which is invaluable) is known on pretty much all platforms to one degree or another. Filenames, permissions, modification dates -- these are all metadata, and may or may not be portable across platforms. The Mac had some additional metadata -- custom icons, file types, which app should open a particular file, etc. -- and it improved the usability of the system. Frankly, we could do with yet more.

    Of course, if you like to tell software what sectors on the disk to read instead of using filenames, which are metadata, more power to you. But most people aren't that crazy.

    That drove me nuts -- it meant you couldn't easily make tools (as in any Unix environment), because you had to be willing to do resource fork stuff.

    Meh. As a rule of thumb, doing a task in software takes a set amount of work. The more work that the programmer does once, the less work that the user will have to do repeatedly. So programming should be comparatively hard, in order to make use quite easy.

    Now, the form of use that consists of creating more tools should also be easy, but that requires a hell of a lot of work by programmers to make it so. Recently, Apple has put out Automator, which is handy, but still needs significant work. Applescript was an interesting attempt, but really didn't work out well for most people.
  • Re:Not really, no (Score:2, Informative)

    by zbaron ( 649094 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:43AM (#13913401)
    I'm not doing bad with TurboCAD, but I don't know what I could use on OS/X for 3D drafting that would even be in the same ball park.

    How about TurboCAD [imsisoft.com] then?
  • by DLWormwood ( 154934 ) <`moc.em' `ta' `doowmrow'> on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:45AM (#13913407) Homepage
    Their insistence on the "resource" fork always struck me as idiotic: data is data. If it is in a file, it is a bunch of bytes (or even blocks of bytes) -- no need to have separate "meta" information.

    "Insistence" is really the wrong word. After Jobs' return, many of the NeXT developers tried to deprecate such traditional Mac-isms, but the established Mac developer base, as well as many users (especially in the publishing/graphic arts marketspace), balked.

    The original point of the resource fork was to provide a system wide "poor man's database" so that any arbitrary application or data file could have arbitrary tagged data appended to it without breaking or confusing apps that originally read the file. For example, to add publishing keywords to a graphics file in its data fork, you have to worry if you are working with a EPS, JPEG, PSD, TIFF or whatever. Each file format has it's own way of storing metadata and added info that are mostly incompatible with each other. However, assuming you are in a mostly Mac-based shop, you can simply add a "IPTC" resource to the file's resource fork, and you have added keyword data without worrying about the contents or exact format of the file in question, even if it's a file format yet to be invented.

    After the early virus problems with System 4-6 OSes, Apple tried to start migrating away from resources to trying to develop a form of "universal container" file format. QuickTime's MOV format and disk images are two such stabs. However, this doesn't solve the compatiblity problem with the "outside world" since that just moves the problem from trying to NOT ignore a secondary data stream (that is, the resource fork) to the problem of insuring all file I/O goes through a "standard container file access" library.

    it meant you couldn't easily make tools (as in any Unix environment), because you had to be willing to do resource fork stuff. That sort of thing convinced me that the Mac was half-baked, and I should just stick to BSD-derived OSes.

    OS X is more or less a BSD-variant. It has more in common with a BSD than the System V derived UNIXes like Linux is alleged to be. As for the tool making problem, under recent OS X releases, you can treat the resource fork of a file like a subdirectory named "/rsrc" in most contexts. This is similar to what Windows needs to access NTFS stream data.

  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:50AM (#13913576)
    Uses Pixar as leverage is diabolically clever.
    But Microsoft using it's market share as leverage against South Korea is evil? Oh, wait. I forgot we were talking about Apple. Steve Jobs could kidnap and use Eisner's grandbabies as leverage against Disney and it would still be "diabolically clever".

    Diabolical is not a compliment.

    diabolical 1. Of, concerning, or characteristic of the devil; satanic.
    2. Appropriate to a devil, especially in degree of wickedness or cruelty.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @06:52AM (#13913745)
    This Apple worshipping has gone a bit too far...

    Here [businessweek.com] are listed most valuable brands in 2005. Apple is on 41. place. Following technology companies are before Apple in the list:

    2. Microsoft
    3. IBM
    5. Intel
    6. Nokia
    13. HP
    17. Cisco
    20. Samsung
    21. Dell
    27. Oracle
    28. Sony
    35. Canon
    38. Google

    Pixar wasn't even on top100 list.
  • Re:Bad Steve stories (Score:4, Informative)

    by laurensv ( 601085 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @07:23AM (#13913840) Homepage
    "Being a busy guy, he also had the habit of parking in the nearest empty parking spot to the entrance, which almost inevitably was one of a places reserved for handicapped drivers."
    I heard/read that story too but with a bit more information on why he did. As he had "pirated" the mac group, previously not believing in it, there was a lot of resentment from outside (because he now favored mac project) and inside (some didn't want him as their boss), even so that some scratched his car. So he parked in full view in front.
  • by tciny ( 783938 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @07:43AM (#13913918)
    >> With the fading away of multimedia CDs and what not, iTunes and the iPod are the only thing keeping QT in widespread use.

    When looking at the movie/effects etc. industry you will find that QuickTime is by far the most popular way to encode Video. Especially because of all the different codecs supported by default (Pixlet, H264, Animation/Lossless). It's the only format I know of that supports such a wide range of ecoding methods and where you can be absolutely sure that when another person has this package installed, it WILL work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:56AM (#13914947)
    The giant Disney, kowtowing to the tiny Apple? A bizarre reversal.
    Giant vs tiny? Disney's market cap is 48B [yahoo.com], compared to Apple's 46B. [yahoo.com] Not a huge difference.
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:59AM (#13914961) Homepage
    "Informative" indeed. I was a Windows/Unix guy for years enticed by the unixy nature of macintoshes, so I migrated. At first, I was completely put off by the idea of resource forks. Data that could magically disappear if you copied the file "the wrong way"? Wouldn't be so bad, except the "wrong way" was through FTP, SMB, HTTP, or even just through the command line. Crazy stuff.

    Then I learned more about them, and largely, they aren't so ridiculous. Maybe there'd be a better technical way to accomplish the same thing, but it's essentially a way to attach meta-data, which is a good thing. How many times do you hear that database-like file systems are the future? Well, you're going to need metadata somehow, and as you mention, you can't just start throwing it in arbitrarily to the data forks of various file-types, because different formats won't all allow the metadata to be stored in the same way and in the same place.

    Mostly, there isn't anything super-important in the resource fork anyhow. At least, there shouldn't be. I guess you could create an empty text file and store your text in the resource fork instead, but why would you? Mostly it's things like thumbnails, tag words, icons, and program associations. And when I say "program associations", I mean that I can set JPGs, by default, to open in Preview, but then set a particular JPG to open in Photoshop, and the instructions for the particular JPG to open in Photoshop would be held in the resource fork. So it's mostly things that are useful, but if you lose them, it's not a huge deal.

    Of course there are some exceptions. Often icon or font files are store their data only in the resource fork (though that need not be the case). On the other hand, if you want to protect your resource fork on a file system or while passing through a transmission that does not support them, you can use Stuffit, Tiger's built-in zip functionality, or a disk image. Also, in the newest versions of OSX, Apple's addressed many of the problems with command-line tools dropping the resource forks.

  • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @11:51AM (#13915366)
    Actually, Apple edged out Google for top recognizable brand this year (do a search, it was reported on/.). Your list is about revenues and size.
  • by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Monday October 31, 2005 @01:10PM (#13916102) Homepage Journal
    Woz is too charitable [woz.org] to Jobs, methinks. I sure woudn't have been that forgiving if I found out my business partner ripped me off so badly (woz went so far to admit this actually made him cry). From parking in handicapped spaces and fire lanes, to ripping off Woz, to his insane tirades, it's pretty clear Jobs is a selfish man, perhaps even proudly so. This isn't a guy that values other people at all.

    Oh, and for all you people screaming about John Sculley ruining the company, again, Woz seems to think a bit differently. Sculley did his best to get Jobs to start making sensible decisions during the first lull in Macintosh sales. He tried to get Jobs to allow the Mac more PC compatibility. Jobs would have none of it, and was actually impeding the progress of his Mac team. That's why the board pretty much sacked him from his duties. He was making absolutely stupid decisions. Andy Hertzfeld gives a rather scathing [folklore.org] account of the famous reality distortion field, and how the board essentially made Jobs a powerless figurehead. But it's pretty obvious he brought it on himself. And as for Sculley's contributions [woz.org]:

    John was more concerned with the total company operation and keeping things going while Steve wanted to keep advancing on the future, company and profits or not, in his own internally conceived directions. Actually, John Sculley promoted technologies like AppleTalk and PowerTalk and QuickTime and PlainTalk and the Newton. He was very supportive of the rare technical geniuses in the company. He was not just a "marketeer" who dressed things up in colors.

    So if history is any guide, letting Jobs run things without the board making him responsive to actual business pressures can be a disastrous thing in the long run. Maybe the guy has learned his lesson. He once said in the mid 90's (before his return to Apple) that if he were running the company again, he'd milk the Macintosh for all it's worth, and get busy on the next big thing. That pretty much sounds like what he's done since his return, with the Ipod now being Apple's premier product. So maybe an old dog can learn new tricks.

    He's still probably an asshole, though...

  • by timster ( 32400 ) on Monday October 31, 2005 @02:31PM (#13916769)
    No, that's not the way it works. Disney's market cap is the value of all outstanding Disney stock, and represents the market's valuation of the company as a whole. Anything Disney owns is thus included in this size.

    More to the point, though, Disney lists its current assets as $54 billion. That's certainly larger than Apple's at $8 billion, though Disney does have some significant debt whereas Apple does not.

    The premium price the market has placed on Apple is essentially because the market believes that Apple has good growth prospects, as opposed to Disney which will presumably move more slowly. Certainly some would argue that hype plays a factor as well.

    Anyway, probably the best measure of corporate size is not market cap but rather yearly revenue. After all, market cap is a sort of fiction created by whimsical traders, whereas revenue is the amount in real dollars that a company has managed to attract from its customers. By revenue, Disney is about three times the size of Apple -- not enough of a difference to call Disney "huge" and Apple "tiny".

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik